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Skookum Falls via Skookum Flats Trail #1194

Our Hiking Time: 2h 15m
Total Ascent: 400ft
Highest Point: 2500ft
Total Distance: 5 miles
Location: N 47° 3.0240, W 121° 34.5540
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Difficulty: Easy

Nathan's Photo
Over the years, we’ve driven down Highway 410 many, many times. On almost all of these excursions, we pass the little roadside pullout perched on the banks of the White River. Invariably, the viewpoint is populated with a few parked cars and some curious travelers craning to get a good look at Skookum Falls as it tumbles 250ft over a cliff and down toward the river. Recently, we decided it was time to stop passing the waterfall by and finally went to get a closer look, along the Skookum Flats Trail #1194.

“Skookum” is a popular adjective in Chinook Jargon. It can mean many different things depending on the context, though it is usually positive. Associated with strength and power, it is likely that the waterfall was named for its height and impressive flow during the annual snowmelt. For veterans of this trail, the suspension bridge that once connected Skookum Flats to the Buck Creek Trail #1169 is still out. The Forest Service has yet to replace the bridge since it was destroyed by a storm in the winter of 2006.

skookum falls hikingwithmybrotherThe route meanders alongside the White River on its way to Skookum Creek. As the name suggests, Skookum Flats involves little in the way of elevation gain, instead it takes a hiker on a gentle tour beneath looming Douglas fir, past mossy rocks and fallen trees, while providing ample opportunity to take in the river and the Snoquera Palisades. The popular trail is wide and flat, free of rocks and roots. Its popularity also ensures that windfalls and debris felled by the storms that frequent the area are quickly removed.

At about the two-mile mark, the sound of rushing water begins to overpower the noise of the river. Catch glimpses of falling water through the leaves as you approach Skookum Creek. Just across the water, a sign points uphill with the simple word “Falls.” The bootpath up to the base of the Skookum Falls is rough and spray from the falls can make the path slick. Use caution if you choose to get a closer look. If you’re craving some more distance, you can continue on another two miles to the end of the trail and the site of the bridge washout.

The low elevation of this trail makes it an ideal hike in the skookum falls hikingwithmybrotherwinter when other trails are buried under the snow. However, if you want to see the waterfall flowing in full force, you’re better off coming in the late spring during the melt. Of course, the ease of this trail makes it a good choice for young hikers as well as trail running. If you’re heading out to Skookum Flats, keep in mind the trail also very popular with mountain bikers, so be ready to share the trail during the summer.

To get there, take I-5 south to Highway 18 Exit 142A. Follow Highway 18 into Auburn and take the SR 164 exit. Head left on SR 164 through Enumclaw to SR 410. Head left onto SR 410 for 25 miles to Huckleberry Creek Road (FR 73). Turn right onto FR 73 and follow for a half-mile to the trailhead on the left just beyond the bridge. -Nathan

Skookum Falls


Nathan said...

Can you get the NW Forest Pass other than online? I looked at the website on your FAQ but it was a little murky about if there were brick & mortar stores to buy them. We have a rough outline for our 10 day trip in May but figured with the way the weather may change, it was wise to keep our hiking plans somewhat fluid.

Jer said...

Hi Nathan,

You can buy a NW forest pass in person at any US Forest Service Ranger station. You can also pickup a NW Forest Pass in person at REI. Where are you heading in May? Sounds fun!


Nathan said...

Thanks for the info!

Most of the time we're staying in Seattle but planning two nights out in Forks (yeah, yeah I know), a night up at Friday Harbor for whale watching and a night somewhere close to Mt. Saint Helens. We had a neat cabin picked out at Eco Park Resort but 3 emails and two phone calls later they still havent responded to my wanting to give them money so now trying to figure something out. Haven't quite nailed down what hikes close to Seattle we're going to do yet.

Jer said...

No problem! Sounds like you're going to cover a lot of great places on your trip!

Anonymous said...

Awesome web site! Thank you for this.

Jer said...

You're welcome! Come back and visit soon!

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